Notes of a Native Son Questions and Answers
by James Baldwin

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What literary techniques does Baldwin use in Notes of a Native Son?

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In Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin published a volume with includes ten of his non-fiction essays. These essays focus generally on the theme of race in America and Europe and specifically on what it means to be black. The title is a reference to Richard Wright’s Native Son, which Baldwin detested for his perception that the novel’s main character, Bigger Thomas, played into racist stereotypes.

Baldwin uses a number of literary techniques and devices in this collection. In the “Notes of a Native Son” essay , Baldwin uses juxtaposition as he examines his father’s death from tuberculosis. First, while his father lies on his deathbed, “life stirred” within his mother as she prepared to give birth to Baldwin’s sister. Later, his father’s funeral occurs on Baldwin’s nineteenth birthday and on the same day as the Harlem Riot of 1943. This juxtaposition helps show the reader that even joyful occasions in the black community are marred by profound depression and sadness, which...

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